Nature Notes – Global Birding’s Big Day

The concept of ‘Big Day’ birdwatching has been around for many years. It was initially popular in a handful of countries including the UK and USA. On a given day, teams and/or individuals spend a full day (often at least dawn until dusk) trying to find as many species as possible in a pre-defined, local area.
In recent years, arising from the success of the now annual Global Bird Fair in Rutland, the Big Day concept has gone global. Global Birding’s Big Day promotes:

  • Co-operation amongst the global community of ornithologists and birdwatchers
  • Local, low carbon, birdwatching
  • Fund-raising and sponsorship to support conservation projects co-ordinated and selected by Birdlife International

A Saturday in early May was chosen for the Big Day, as this is a time of maximum birdsong and migration activity in the Northern Hemisphere.

This year the Big Day was Saturday 11 May. As you read this, it is too late for you to participate in 2024. However, look out for the results which will undoubtedly be featured in most media outlets. Might you be inspired to form a team to participate in future events?

Last year, over 100 countries were represented from all parts of the world. The largest number of counts submitted came from the USA (80, 000+ team and/or individual counts). At the other end of the size scale, single counts came from The Vatican City and the Antarctic Survey Team. 2,310 teams/individuals submitted counts from across the UK.

Globally, 7,746 species were recorded on the day, out of an estimated total of 11,000 bird species on the planet. The four highest counts were all from S. American countries, topped by a staggering 1,547 species recorded in Colombia. In the UK the 245 species recorded on 13 May was 39% of the 630 species ever recorded here. As someone who would be hard-pressed to identify and name all our 630 species, I am jealous of, but in some ways grateful, that I don’t live in Colombia.

In recognition of Global Birding this month’s photo is of King and Gentoo Penguins at Bluff Cove on the Falklands Islands.

King and Gentoo Penguins at Bluff Cove on the Falklands Islands

David Scott